Congratulations—you did it! Four years gone and you’re standing on the brink of reality with your freshly minted diploma in your hands. Now what?
For some of you, corporate life awaits, and that’s a wonderful path to take. However, there are those of you who may feel like you’ve been flung from a cozy, predictable nest into an abyss of the unknown.
It’s a mixture of excitement, apprehension, and a touch of post-grad blues. And that can make life after college awfully daunting.
But here’s the not-so-secret secret: it’s only the beginning of your journey. And as Missy Butcher, the co-founder of Lifebook and co-trainer of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Online Quest, says, “If you don’t even know where to start, trust the process.”
Does Life Get Better After College?
This is a complex question with no right answer. It’s different for everyone, and it’s all about perspective.
For instance, in one survey of 1,000 respondents, 56.2% said that life after graduation is emotionally challenging. Additionally, 56% of them say they’ve experienced a quarter-life crisis, which is an earlier version of a midlife crisis.
It also doesn’t help when pop culture paints college as the highlight of life, like in Pitch Perfect or National Lampoon’s Van Wilder—the friendships, parties, and life-defining experiences. And for many, this leaves them with the impression that everything that comes after might be a pale shadow in comparison.
Why life after college is better
Despite this, life after college also brings new opportunities. Growth, discovery, and personal development can make adult life immensely rewarding.
Here’s a closer look at how they’re done:
- You can make decisions that truly align with your personal goals and values. No longer confined to the structure of a curriculum, you’re free to explore your interests, cultivate your talents, and navigate your path.
- You get to meet diverse individuals outside the academic bubble, helping you broaden your perspective. Be it through your professional networks or social encounters, the interactions you have post-college can enrich your life in unexpected ways.
- The challenges you encounter, though tough, can lead to personal growth. Navigating through the complexities of adult life often instills resilience, self-reliance, and adaptability. And these valuable traits contribute to your overall professional and personal development.
“I believe that each of us has the right to live for our own sake and to enjoy our lives,” says Jon Butcher, who co-founded Lifebook with his wife, Missy, and co-trains the Lifebook Online Quest at Mindvalley. And life doesn’t stop at college; rather, it opens the door to it.
How to Avoid Post-Grad Blues
In the heart of your “adulting” experience, you may encounter what feels like a sea of uncertainties. Social life after college might not be a non-stop party. The full-time job market may seem as volatile as a Game of Thrones season finale. And all these can definitely leave you feeling stuck in life.
“Feeling anxiety, depression, or some degree of ‘stuckness’ and discomfort after graduating is normal,” explains Dr. Libby O’Brien, a licensed professional counselor, in an American Psychiatric Association article. “It’s a change, and change can be very challenging to negotiate. You don’t necessarily know what comes next.”
5 ways to combat the blues
- Understand that it’s okay to feel uncertain. Acknowledge the feelings of uncertainty and confusion; life is a journey, after all. Embrace the fact that you’re just starting out, and it’s okay not to have all the answers yet.
- Set achievable goals. Use a goal-setting template to set small, attainable objectives to give your day structure and purpose. This could be anything from applying for a certain number of jobs per week to picking up a new skill or hobby.
- Stay connected. Don’t isolate yourself. Keep in touch with college friends, join new clubs, or network within your desired industry. These interactions can provide support and open new opportunities.
- Prioritize self-care. Taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial during this period. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices like meditation can go a long way toward maintaining your overall well-being.
- Seek professional help if needed. If feelings of sadness, anxiety, or stress become overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional.
The thing to keep in mind is that this part of your life journey is about embracing the questions, finding your purpose, and charting your unique path. Picture it as a blank page of your very own Lifebook, waiting for you to write your narrative.
How to Find Purpose in Life After Graduation
Surely, anything new is exciting with a tinge of nervousness. And with so many paths unfurling before you, how do you know which direction to take?
This is where Lifebook, a bestselling purpose-discovery program, can be your guide to life after college.
The idea behind it is simple yet profound: rather than conforming to the societal or familial expectations that often make us feel stuck, you write your own script. And it’s a comprehensive blueprint that encompasses every facet of your life.
Here’s a step-by-step process for using Lifebook to find your purpose:
1. Start with reflection
Begin by taking some time for introspection in every aspect of your life.
- Health and fitness
- Intellectual life
- Emotional life
- Love relationship
- Social life
- Financial life
- Quality of life
- Life vision
Within each, what are the things that truly matter to you?
You can use a focus wheel to get to your heart’s desires. After all, they should be a reflection of your authentic self and your personal aspirations.
For example, if you have a passion for art, don’t shy away from including your artistic pursuits in your Lifebook. It’s all about what makes you feel fulfilled.
Insight from Jon Butcher: “Goals are instructions to yourself. Setting goals pulls you forward toward the object of your desire.”
These goals aren’t merely checklists but are deeply connected to your personal growth and fulfillment. They transform your aspirations into tangible targets, giving you direction and motivation.
2. Transform challenges into growth opportunities
Every superhero uses their adversities as stepping stones to become stronger, more resilient, and ultimately victorious. In the same way, your challenges aren’t meant to halt your journey but to enrich it.
This is especially true in the context of life after college. The challenges you may face, whether they’re related to finding a full-time job, adjusting to a new city, or navigating the dynamics of adult relationships, are your plot twists.
These instances, though potentially daunting, can be powerful catalysts for growth and self-discovery. And by approaching these challenges with a positive perspective, you can transform them into meaningful learning experiences.
Insight from Jon Butcher: “Any strategy that doesn’t change something that you do will be utterly and completely ineffective. It’s not about what you learn that creates positive change; it’s about the daily choices you make and the daily actions you take.”
Challenges, in a nutshell, are pivotal points that demand change and action. And it’s through proactive responses that you move towards your greatness.
3. Create your narrative
Imagine your life as the ultimate superhero movie. You, the fresh graduate, are the superhero. You’ve just finished your origin story—college—and now you’re stepping into the main plot, the real world.
Your Lifebook becomes your guide, helping you shape the rest of your story. It’s an exciting premise because it propels you to ask, “What should I do with my life?” And rather than fear this question, you embrace it because you have the power to answer it, much like the character arc of a superhero.
Lifebook not only provides a space for defining your path but also helps you realize the breadth of possibilities open to you. It enables you to view life after college not as a daunting abyss but as a platform for limitless opportunities.
Once you begin to understand that you’re in control of your narrative, life becomes easier to navigate. And every decision, every step, and every goal brings you closer to the person you want to become.
Insight from Missy Butcher: “Lifebook is about getting to know yourself. And if you’re going to bullsh*t yourself, then you’re not going to believe yourself.”
Authenticity plays an essential role in your life, helping to form the bedrock of your personal narrative. So it’s always important to be honest with yourself about your values, desires, and experiences.
4. Embrace change
If the question “Is life easier after college?” is ever on your mind, understand this: change is a constant in life. And this truth becomes more evident after college.
As you transition into the adult world, changes can range from simple shifts in daily routines to significant evolutions in relationships or career paths.
This can include small but essential changes like building a new routine, setting boundaries, or establishing new health habits. Larger changes, like moving cities, starting a new job, or building new relationships, require more significant adjustments.
However, as intimidating as change may be, it’s important to see it as an opportunity for growth rather than a disruption. And by embracing them and using them as stepping stones, you can write an enriching and evolving narrative of your life.
Insight from Jon Butcher: “You are what you consistently do. Your habits shape your character.”
When you consciously adopt new, positive habits in response to life’s changes, you start to mold your character. This way, you can shape your future to align with your goals and aspirations.
5. Don’t limit your definition of success
Often, we get caught up in the societal image of success—a high-paying full-time job, a picture-perfect family, a house with a white picket fence. In fact, 2023 statistics show that 62% of college seniors have accepted their first job after college.
While these are undoubtedly significant achievements for many, they don’t necessarily have to define your purpose or success. Because, remember, your journey is unique and personal, and your definition of success should be as well.
So when people ask you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, challenge yourself to think beyond that. This might include exploring new countries, learning a new language, running a marathon, or volunteering for a cause close to your heart.
The reality is, what to do with your life after graduation isn’t just about your career advancement. Rather, it’s an invitation to reflect on what you truly want out of life and what will give you a sense of fulfillment and joy.
Insight from Jon Butcher: “Happiness is the only real success.”
True success is not tethered to societal standards such as wealth or status. Instead, it’s about achieving personal happiness, which can stem from a myriad of sources unique to you as an individual.
Commence the Adventure
The bottom line is, life after graduation is an exciting new chapter waiting to be written by you. And as you hold that scroll in your hand, remember that it’s okay not to have it all figured out yet.
Your journey is not a race, and it’s certainly not a competition. It’s an adventure, an opportunity to explore, grow, and discover who you truly are and what you truly want.
And if you want help writing your story, sign up for Mindvalley’s Lifebook Online Masterclass (it’s free!). With Jon and Missy Butcher as your guides, you can learn how to turn your life into a masterpiece.
“My whole life, I’ve been confused, hurt, and thrown every which way, from physical conditions, mental illnesses, emotional abuse, money troubles, you name it,” said Olivia Perovic, a student from the United States and a Mindvalley Member. “Before I even finished going through the program, I experienced major changes in my life categories that needed the most attention.”
So, like Olivia and many others, it’s time to embrace the journey. Find your compass. And step into your story.
Images generated on Midjourney except for the ones of the Mindvalley trainers.